Saturday, April 2, 2016 Spring Ducks and Longspurs

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 7:17 am, sunset 8:46 pm for a total daylight of 13 hours and 28 minutes. Tomorrow will be 5 minutes and 29 seconds longer.

March went out with a flourish of brilliant sunshine, blue sky, and a high of 58ยบ. April, however, came in swinging with rain/sleet squalls, spangles of sun, temperamental wind swings, and temps in the mid-30s to lower 40s.

Concealed in those dark clouds, propelled by the strong south winds, were a few fresh spring migrants. Four GREATER SCAUP, 3 drakes and a hen, and two pairs of GREEN-WINGED TEAL joined the flock of two dozen NORTHERN PINTAILS.  Spring merged on the pond with the overwintering MALLARDS, BUFFLEHEAD, COMMON GOLDENEYES, and COMMON MERGANSERS.

I heard a short “Crrrrrickkkk!” and turned in time to see about 10 passerines lift up and dive down into the flattened, straw-colored beach rye grass. By watching carefully, I finally spotted a handsome LAPLAND LONGSPUR male scurrying under the haphazard dead stalks punctuated by brave, green, vertical shoots. Despite the bright chestnut collar and striking black, white, chestnut, and yellow coloration, it was impossible to spot the others until they flew up and away. These may be the same birds I heard on March 29th.

As another squall hit with stinging rain, I drove over to mile 1 Nash Road. The resident parent TRUMPETER SWANS were quietly feeding. Yesterday, I saw the female sitting on the nest for a short time, but apparently she is not quite ready to incubate. Their four cygnets have not been seen since March 21st.

Also on April 1st, six GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS hunted earthworms migrating across the street. How did they know? What smart, opportunistic birds! A CANADA GOOSE, unknown subspecies, was reported in the Seward Boat Harbor and along the waterfront.

Since March 26, I have heard VARIED THRUSHES singing in town.  As none were reported this winter, these are likely spring arrivals. A very bright male ROBIN popped up as well, so handsome! At least two WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS continue to sing in the neighborhood, occasionally giving chase.

On March 29th, Tasha reported a THAYER’S GULL, LONG-TAILED DUCK drake, and two EURASIAN WIGEONS. The squally weather made it difficult to refind any of them, but it’s nice to know they were here.

As the sky once again darkens with thick clouds, I’m looking and listening for more spring deliveries.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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